Wednesday, December 14, 2016

birds and crafts

a European starling, part of a murmuration that passed through this afternoon
So far today I've decorated a wreath and made bunting from old Christmas cards.  Some of the bits and pieces above will be sewn onto fabric tree ornaments I'm making for my niece.  The creative bug has come a bit late this year, but at last it's arrived.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

While Tim went home to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, I stayed in Utah.  I read a lot, did some baking, cuddled with our kitten, went for long walks, and broke out the Christmas decorations.  After buying a new tree at Target for a ridiculous $16.00 (no kidding), I put on the holiday music and went to work.  Here are a few photos:

A Belleek Pottery ornament Tim and I bought while in Ireland a few years ago.  It is so gorgeous and simple.  
A few Big Sky ornaments from my collection.  These make me smile every time I look at them.

A greeting card I picked up at Trader Joe's and decided to frame.  They have the cutest cards, Christmas or any time.  Who wouldn't love to receive this fox with his adorable scarf and warm hat?  The artist is Rebecca Jones.

I have so many memories attached to this time of year, and it's always fun to relive them while decorating.  This little heart ornament came from a Christmas market in Vienna, Austria.  The woman behind the booth was very fun and creative.  The next photo shows her wares.

With a kitten in the house, I decided to display these on a pretty platter rather than risk putting them on the tree.  These were gifted to me by a very kind and generous woman having a garage sale a few years back.  She was so happy to pass them on to someone who would appreciate them.

Most of these ornaments were gifts, as are many others on our tree.  The tartan Scottie dog is a new addition this year, thanks to Tim's auntie, uncle and cousins.

That little stocking is for Miss Penny.  Santa never forgets the kitty in our house.

My mom gave these stained-glass ornaments to me  last year.  They were part of her holiday decorating for decades so they're quite meaningful to me.

Nothing so darling as a chubby moose on skis

UK candy booty Tim brought home - gifts from his family from Scotland who were also visiting his parents.  It may take us a bit to get through all of this! 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sanctuary in the city

A few weeks back, Tim and I spent some time at the Ogden Nature Center.  It had been many years since I last visited, and I am grateful we went.  This place is truly an oasis of nature in the middle of a business/industrial area and close to an interstate.  We saw lots of birds (robins, chickadees, belted kingfishers, Canada geese), a few mule deer, a feral cat, and dozens of handmade bird houses spread over acres of forest and meadow.  The visitor center (which is a green building) is wonderful as well with loads of informative books, wildlife- and nature-related gifts, and a classroom where they teach all sorts of fun things such as how to make a felted owl.  It's a lovely welcome to the preserve as it  appears to almost spring forth from the natural landscape surrounding it.


There are also several birds of prey in residence due to injury and/or human imprinting that requires them to live in captivity.  While I enjoy getting to see animals much closer than one likely could in the wild, part of me feels tremendous sadness that they are confined.  I do, however, understand that these particular birds wouldn't survive in the wild on their own.  They also provide educational opportunities for ornithologists, conservationists, and the general public.  If you love birds, here are a few of the species you'd find:  barn owl, raven, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, bald eagle, screech owl, kestrel.  Please check their website to find out about educational opportunities and scheduled activities.  I wish we lived closer so I could volunteer here.

There's something rather soul-stirring in making eye contact with a bald eagle.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Victoria Erickson (instagram: Victoria1031) (facebook: Victoria Erickson, writer):

I realize that the outcome of yesterday's Presidential election has evoked countless emotions from fear and anxiety to happiness and excitement and pretty much everything in between.  I know many I love are bewildered or angry, and some of them are happy that their candidate won. 

Today, I've chosen to sit quietly.  To listen to meditation and soundtrack playlists on YouTube.  To savor hot cups of tea.  To peruse bucolic, inspiring, and ethereal photography boards on Pinterest.  To cuddle on the couch under a soft quilt.  Not out of sadness but rather reflection.

I am what is considered a highly sensitive person.  I get overwhelmed easily by loud sounds, crowds, noisy restaurants, images of sad things, violent words and movies, that kind of thing.  I startle easily too.  But when I awoke at 3:30 am and was unable to return to sleep, I decided that calmness is the way forward.  I, like many, can often look at the proverbial glass as half empty rather than half full.  I mean, I am scared of the overt racism, misogyny, religious intolerance, disdain for opposing opinions, and overarching language of fear and intimidation that has taken place in these last months from so many sources, in so many forums.  There were many moments of gobsmacking incredulity.  A lot of it terrified me actually.  Especially because it seemed so ubiquitous.  But I cannot dwell there.  I can't look at anything as being half full or hopeless, nor can I embrace despair.  I will do my utmost to hope because I want to think that somehow what's best for this country will outweigh cruelty and ignorance from any source. 

As folks have already said, "go high" and "we're stronger together."  I will respectively try and believe because negativity just doesn't work in the long haul.  It puts energy into something unsustainable.  

You may, as I did, find comfort in Mr. George Takei's words from his Facebook page last night.  Please keep an open mind, no matter how you voted.  I trust his intent.
I am addressing this to all who voted to defeat Donald Trump and what he represents. We may not have prevailed, but we must not despair.
Many of you are, like me, in a state of shock. This does not feel like the America you love and honor. We are in unchartered waters. In times like these we must reaffirm the values we cherish and have fought for: equality, justice, the care of our planet. We must stand up defiantly to any dark or divisive acts, and look out for the most vulnerable among us. It is more important than ever.
Within our hearts we know the society we wish to live in. No one can take that vision from us. We are each of us keepers of that promise. This country has seen wars and grave injustices, slavery and even civil war in its past. Yet we found our way through.
Hold your loved ones close. Tell them that it is in times of sadness and in the toughest of days where we often find our true mettle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

weekend wandering

wild horses

Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge



sunset with lots of dirt road dust in the air

Pony Express station (rebuilt)

Monday, October 17, 2016

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

While driving to town last week, it became clear that fall has arrived near our little corner of Utah.  The colors were just exploding, and the quaking aspen in particular were at their autumn peak.  I love it when the leaves are so conspicuous that it appears they are a vivid orange halo, afloat near the trees rather than attached to the branches. 

On Sunday, Tim and I took a drive and saw wild turkeys by the roadside, a small herd of deer beyond a fence, large birds of prey sitting on telephone poles, and small birds flitting among the trees near a creek.  Magpies were shek-shek-sheking as they flew between the juniper trees, dipping and showing off their whirligig feathers.  I've always enjoyed magpies and jays and crows and especially ravens.  In Yellowstone, guests were sometimes afraid of the boldness of these birds, and many of my co-workers were fond of calling magpies "trash in a tuxedo."  Having witnessed their obvious intelligence and problem-solving skills first-hand for so many years, I wonder why everyone isn't fascinated by corvids.  Or by birds in general, for that matter. 

We took some time exploring a small campground by the name of Clover Spring.  It seemed there were a thousand hues of yellow, green, brown, red, and orange all around us.  From the moss-covered stones in the creek to the fallen leaves on the ground, it was all so lovely.  It may have helped that we had the entire place to ourselves.  

We also stopped at Clover Reservoir, a small wetlands area / refuge where we saw a zig zagging jackrabbit and a dried up marsh that will hopefully offer some waterfowl sightings come spring.

a line of transmission towers along the highway adjacent to Clover Reservoir
another heart shaped rock, albeit a man-made and painted one